ADHD and changing jobs
How do you know if leaving a job is the right decision… or just ADD restlessness?
Justin, a manager in a large financial corporation, hired me as an ADHD Coach to help him salvage his job. He had done quite well over the years, gaining increasing responsibility in managing retail offices where he dealt with the public and oversaw an entire operation of various types and levels of employees. Although he loved his work, Justin felt he had reached the top of where he could go in the retail area of the organization. Therefore, one year ago, he had allowed himself to be seduced away by a rival firm to take a higher-paying position involving complex transactions.
Now, rather than using his relationship-building and people skills, Justin's success was dependent on his ability to juggle enormous amounts of detailed paperwork and to conduct quantitative analysis. In fact, these were areas that he did not have particular strengths, and did not enjoy. His ADHD-overwhelm kicked in and he found himself increasingly paralyzed, day after day. In addition to being depressed at facing the workday, he lived in fear that his shortcomings would be discovered. The fact that his boss showed great patience and continued to have faith in him made Justin feel even worse.
The job was a wrong fit
It became clear in talking with Justin that the job was a completely wrong fit for him. In addition to disliking the work, his self-esteem was taking a beating every day. He had hired an ADHD Coach to help him get into the flow of doing the work, but he felt trapped. As we know, with ADD / ADHD, when we dislike something we're doing, we have a hard time focusing on it.
When Justin realized he didn't have to blame himself or the job, a great weight was lifted off his shoulders. Realizing it was not in his best interest to try to force himself to remain long-term, Justin was able to attend industry events and network without feeling like a failure. He heard about an opening in his previous line of work, presented himself confidently as a candidate and was hired to manage a new retail office.
Once Justin gave notice to his boss, two funny things happened.
First, Justin was suddenly able to perform well. For the first time in this job, he found himself productively conducting complex transactions and putting through sales without feeling overwhelmed.
Second, his boss, rather than being relieved at getting rid of a poor performer, expressed great dismay that Justin was leaving! He brought pressure to bear on Justin to the point where Justin began to question his decision to leave.
Was he really doing the right thing, to leave this job after only a year?
Justin was anguished. Was it just his ADD that made him need to enjoy his work? Shouldn't he take responsibility and stick with the job longer? Was he giving up too soon?
The boss ultimately accused Justin of “copping out,” implying that he was showing a weakness of character by not staying longer, even providing a poor role model for his children. This personal attack strengthened Justin's resolve that he was doing the right thing to leave.
With ADD / ADHD, we do tend to change jobs more often. Although sometimes the change is forced on us, our restlessness comes from a desire to do something different, our attraction to the newness of a new place with new responsibilities. Our interests tend to be broader, less likely to be fulfilled for long in the same job. Or we may have taken a job impulsively and then discovered it wasn't a good fit for our strengths. But if we leave every time we're frustrated, we could end up with so many jobs that an employer would be afraid to hire us.
Have you ever struggled with the decision to leave a job or career that you hated? Did you feel that you should “stay the course?” What did you do? Was it the right decision? Please comment below!